You thought of Aesop when you read the subtitle, didn’t you? The story in this book is not your typical Aesop’s fable. Not by a long shot. In fact, Aesop’s got nothing on the author of A Princess and Her Garden in the telling of a tale. Patricia R. Adson, Ph.D. has taken the idea of the fable to new heights; better still, I should say she has given fables fertile new ground. This is a story that may, at first, catch readers off guard as it may not be what you are expecting to read. After the initial surprise, you will settle in for a story that begs reflection by the reader without actually having directed you to do so. And perhaps that is what a fable is supposed to do — reach into your subconscious with such stealth that the moral of the story becomes personal.
This is a beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of a princess and the “gardening” lessons she learned early on from her parents, the king and queen, and a prince who comes courting later in her life.
The lives of the princess, the king, the queen, and the prince are metaphors for gardens, and the princess discovers that “what we learned in childhood may not serve us well as adults.” By tending to others’ “gardens” – their wants, their needs, their expectations – she neglects the necessary task of caring for her own. The princess attempts to do what is necessary to ensure everyone’s happiness and thereby remain in their good graces. Unfortunately, that practice comes with a hefty price — that of her own happiness. It is only when a child enters her life that the princess learns how to tend her own overgrown and ignored “garden.”
While the first part of the book is the fable itself, a suggestion from the author’s daughter allows readers to personalize the second part. “A Guided Journal” is the product of their collaboration.
The journaling portion of A Princess and Her Garden is divided into four sections, each referring to a specific life stage: “Then,” “The In-Between,” “Now,” and “From Now On.” Thought-provoking questions are presented and readers then are asked to write down their answers. Once your personal beliefs begin to surface, you will see how the process has the potential to foster insight for meaningful change. All it requires is that you take to heart the questions asked and answer them honestly, without embellishing or minimizing your responses.
If not already in the works, in the near future perhaps Adson can make an online version of “The Guided Journal” available for those of us who cannot bear or even fathom the thought of writing in a book. This would be especially helpful when A Princess and Her Garden becomes available for download to the Kindle, Nook, or iPad.
“The weeds in your garden are all the things that take space in your life and your mind and use up the energy and time you require to live your life to the fullest.” The weeds of resentment, rejection, and regret are cleared from the garden using the tools of forgiveness and boundaries as well as identifying and nourishing the best-growing “crops” for self-care.
Adson states that “the self-care concept is difficult for many to grasp as we view it as a question of ‘either/or’ rather than ‘both/and.” It seems to me that this distinction and reversal of perspective may be just what caretakers of others’ gardens need in order to come to the realization that the health of one’s own garden does not have to suffer while the garden of another flourishes under your care.
While it may be that women will comprise the majority of this book’s readership, it is certain there are “princes” who could also benefit from reading A Princess and Her Garden. It is reasonable to assume that some of them may have grown up learning these same lessons.
The fable of A Princess and Her Garden and “The Guided Journal” strike me as perfect partners in what could easily be a course in mindfulness. A quote I had read elsewhere by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and teacher, says “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” This quote seems to go hand in hand with the foundation and objective of Adson’s book.
In order to awaken from the “trance of childhood,” the author says we need to “open our eyes and see all that is around us and then to look inside with a new perspective.” A Princess and Her Garden and “The Guided Journal” facilitate that process so well that you may not be able to look at the landscape of your own life in quite the same way again.
A Princess and Her Garden: A Fable of Awakening and Arrival
Center for Applications of Psychological Type, Inc.; 2nd edition: November 30, 2011
Hardcover, 135 pages